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Polar Express holiday kick-off includes selection of youth guest train conductors, vouchers for veterans, military

Santa greets Arlinda Birdsall and her triplet grandchildren Nick, Luke and Kate during a session kicking off the Saratoga & North Creek Railway’s 2012 Polar Express excursions running from Nov. 15 through Christmas. The round trips to ‘the North Pole’ feature singing elves, dancing chefs and retelling of the classic children’s holiday tale. This year, older children will have the chance to be chosen as Junior Conductors for one of the trips.

Santa greets Arlinda Birdsall and her triplet grandchildren Nick, Luke and Kate during a session kicking off the Saratoga & North Creek Railway’s 2012 Polar Express excursions running from Nov. 15 through Christmas. The round trips to ‘the North Pole’ feature singing elves, dancing chefs and retelling of the classic children’s holiday tale. This year, older children will have the chance to be chosen as Junior Conductors for one of the trips. Photo by Thom Randall.

— The immensely popular Polar Express holiday excursions of the Saratoga-North Creek Railway kick off at 1 p.m. Monday Nov. 11 with an event at which children can greet some of the characters featured in the beloved tale as well as have their letters to Santa delivered via train to the "North Pole."

This special holiday session is to be held at the Saratoga Springs Train Station, 26 Station Lane, Saratoga Springs. The public is welcome to attend the event, which will also feature prominent politicians who will be serving as Guest Conductors for several of the runs during the season.

Photo opportunities with the storybook characters will be featured at the event, which includes roll out of the SNCRR’s Santa Letter promotion. A locomotive and caboose will take the first batch of letters to the North Pole.

A drawing will be conducted on-site, children present at Monday’s event can enter to win one of three opportunities to be a Junior Polar Express Conductor. Ages 8-12 can enter, due to safety and responsibilities required.

The event also features distributing vouchers for U.S. veteran’s and active military personnel a voucher for a free train ride in 2014.

These themed excursions offered by the railroad begin Nov. 15 and run through Dec. 29. The excursions re-tell the classic children’s story of a magical Christmas train, a tale that was turned into a movie in 2004.

The series of 70 or so Polar Express train trips, taking children to “the North Pole” and back, were a first-ever for the Capital Region when introduced — and the excitement over the experience hasn’t faded since.

During the one-hour excursions, the classic tale comes to life, complete with singing elves, dancing chefs and a visit by Santa. The story is read aloud and the music of the movie plays aloud during the trip, prompting sing-alongs. The excursion features cookies, cocoa and caroling.

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